Instead Say: Im Always Here For You
You dont have to understand what your friend is going through to be there for them, and you dont have to compare your experiences to theirs to show them that you understand what they feel.
If you dont know what its like to have severe anxiety, be honest about that. But also let them know that you know its real for them and you want to be there to support them however you can.
Showing you care will help if your friend is self-conscious about their anxiety or has a hard time opening up about it. Listen without judgment to what they have to say and what their experiences are like. Being there for someone even when you cant relate is a powerful way of showing support.
Help Them Find A Distraction
Distracting someone from their anxious thoughts can help break the anxiety cycle and give them some relief from their symptoms.
Suggest something they can do or focus on that will take their mind off their anxiety. You could ask them to focus on something in the room and describe it to you in detail, or you could send them a funny meme or photo that will make them laugh.
You could also ask them to think about something pleasant, such as their favorite memory or a place they’d like to visit. Or ask them to name as many things as possible that are a certain color or list all of the countries they can think of.
What Not To Do When Someone Is Having A Panic Attack
While its tempting to help your loved one avoid the feelings of panic by distracting them from their bodily sensations or taking them away from the situation, these are considered safety behaviors. While safety behaviors might help to ease anxiety in the moment, they could actually reinforce a cycle of panic that exists in panic disorder.
Safety behaviors and distractions can prevent people from learning that panic attacks, while uncomfortable, are not actually harmful or dangerous.
Your loved one can handle panic without actually doing anything, and its important for them to know that anxiety about panic goes away on its own without causing them harm.
Cognitive behavioral therapy a major method for treating panic disorder teaches you strategies to reduce your anxiety and avoidance around panic attacks. The idea isnt to prevent them but to sit with them until they inevitably pass. And often, you experience fewer panic attacks over time as you grow to fear them less.
The most effective way to react to a panic attack is just to ride it out instead of resisting or escaping it. While escaping a panic attack in the short term reduces anxiety, it just drives the panic cycle in the long term because you reinforce beliefs that panic is dangerous, harmful, or something that must be avoided at all costs.
The idea is to allow the symptoms to just be, which helps you to view panic attacks as a manageable experience, not one that needs to be escaped.
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Do Listen To How They Want To Be Supported
When you ask the person how you can support them, listen carefully to their preferences. After all, you want to know how to help people with anxiety and support them. They may want help breaking down a task they are anxious about, they may want you to distract them from their anxious thoughts or they may just want someone to talk to.
Quick Read Anxiety Support 101
- Theres a difference between normal, everyday anxiety and having an anxiety disorder.
- If an anxious friend decides to confide in you, show you support them.
- Validate, rather than minimize, their experience.
- If you dont have an anxiety disorder, avoid offering advice without listening to your friend.
- Tell them youre there for them, ask how you can help and listen to what they have to say.
Its never not awkward telling someone I have anxiety disorders. And Ive had to tell a lot of people: friends, family, supervisors, dates.
Opening up to others can be validating and freeing, but its always stressful at first because I dont know how theyll respond. Being stereotyped or treated insensitively when youre struggling can be nerve-wracking, especially if you already get down on yourself for having anxiety.
What Ive learned in my many years of coming clean is that most people mean well. They dont want to say the wrong thing, but it can be hard for them to know the right thing to say if they dont know much about anxiety.
While everyone experiences anxiety, people experience differing degrees of severity, says Ty Lostutter, a clinical psychologist who specializes in anxiety and treats patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at South Lake Union.
Anxiety is normal and healthy. It keeps us safe and motivates us, Lostutter says. It only becomes a problem when someone becomes overly anxious and it interferes with daily life.
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Want To Go For A Walk With Me
To follow up after the text above, send along a few ideas for relaxing activities, like a walk in the park, a trip to the corner store for bagels, or whatever else might be comforting or distracting. Bonus points if you make it sound like something you were about to do anyway so that they dont feel pressured.
Recognize What Can Help
In addition to receiving professional medical help, individuals struggling with anxiety are encouraged to seek out ways to help manage their symptoms at home. There are a variety of approaches and activities people can try as part of an overall treatment plan, including:
- Regular exercise or any type of physical activity.
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine
- Challenging negative thoughts and focusing on what you can control
- Limiting worry time, but not fighting it
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Try To Shift Their Focus
You may have experienced or seen someone crying and someone else making jokes to try to make them feel better.
On many occasions, it can be a risky move because some people may think you are not taking their feelings seriously and some others will laugh with you forgetting for a second about how they actually feel.
When someone is having a panic attack, their attention is focused on it.
Try shifting their attention by talking about a funny story you two share or some future plan .
Dont Say: Have You Tried Meditation/yoga/cutting Caffeine/exercising More
Meditation and yoga and deep breathing and all of the other anti-anxiety trends that have taken pop culture by storm might be helpful for some people, maybe even your ultra-anxious friend. But they also might not.
Extreme anxiety can feel consuming, which means that small things like taking a few deep breaths might not be enough to counter panic in the moment. Anxiety can also make someone feel so restless that sitting quietly and letting their thoughts float away is pretty much impossible.
Everyone with anxiety has different relaxation techniques that work for them and some people need to do something active, like go for a run, instead of sitting and breathing calmly. Others may need to work with a therapist. Dont offer unsolicited advice unless youve been trained to treat people with anxiety disorders or you have one yourself and want to share your experience.
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Comforting Someone Over Text Using The Ruok Method
Comforting someone over text can be similar to comforting someone in person on some levels.
Ultimately, both scenarios rely on effective communication, empathy, and active listening skills. In both scenarios, your goal is to recognize and understand what your friend is going through, and then to help them resolve it.
However, there are also some challenges when trying to comfort a friend over text. Without visible body language, we have to make an extra effort to show that we are actively listening. Messages like I understand how youre feeling, or asking specific questions can help demonstrate active listening over text. While you cant hug a friend or family member over text, you can show them how important they are to you by telling them directly.
To keep the process of comforting a friend over text simple, I made the steps as easy to remember as possible. With the RUOK Method, we are effectively asking someone, Are you okay? . From there, we can figure out how to best assist them in calming down, cheering up, or feeling better.
Well walk you through each step. Afterward, keep reading for even more specific tips on how to craft the perfect text to comfort someone in various situations.
Messages To Help Cheer Someone Up Over Text
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What do you want to do for your friends or family members when theyre experiencing tough times? Go to their rescue, right?
You may not have the option to do so in person or even by phone. Maybe youre 12 hours behind your friend who lives in Russia or you cant possibly sneak a call to a loved one into your busy schedule.
Jump ahead to these sections:
Why not cheer someone up via text? The following examples show the simple but effective messages you can send to someone going through a difficult experience.
Tip: If someone you know recently lost a loved one, our post-loss checklist can help them sort through the complicated tasks and challenges they might be facing.
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Ask If They Need Help
For someone with anxiety, the most important thing you can do is ask if you can help them. Some people prefer to be left alone, processing the anxiety by themselves. Others rely on and need the support of others. The best thing that you can do is learn how you can help your friend. Ask them what sort of support they need and how you can be of assistance to them. Find out their style of coping, and learn how you can be of assistance.
What Not To Say To Someone With Anxiety
There are things you should try and avoid saying too. In general, try not to minimise how someone feels or dismiss what they’re saying as an overreaction. Don’t say things like:
- Try not to think about it
- I get anxious sometimes too
- Maybe you’re just an anxious person
- You’ve got nothing to be anxious about
Also Check: How To Calm Someone With A Panic Attack
Don’t Expect Immediate Change
Recovery is a process. Over time, your loved one will develop strategies and techniques that help them to deal with their anxiety, slowly returning to normal life. Do everything you can to support, and not hinder, this process by gathering as much resolve and patience as you can.
Mental health doesn’t change overnight. The issues that lead to a deterioration in their state of mind are likely complex and will take time to heal. Take this into consideration if you ever feel frustrated at what you perceive as a lack of progress. Give it time and it will come.
If your loved one hasnt considered professional support and treatment, yet their anxiety is having a significant impact on their day-to-day life, it may worth exploring their options. Many effective treatments for anxiety are available today, including therapy and intensive inpatient hospital stays.
Part of these treatments is teaching strategies and methods that allow you to learn how to cope with anxiety., making long-term recovery a possibility. Extend your support by attending a GP appointment or assessment by mental health experts here at Priory, where we provide world-class treatment for anxiety. Join the thousands of people we’ve supported in theirt recovery from mental health difficulties.
In the hands of our expertise, you can receive a diagnosis and effective treatment plan to get your symptoms under control and regain your quality of life. To find out how, call us on 0800 840 3219 or get in touch via email.
Putting Hands In Water
Focusing on the waters temperature and feeling it on ones fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands can take the persons mind away from focusing on the imminent threat they may be feeling and divert it to the comforting sensations.
One may also ask the person who is having a panic attack to alternate between hot or cold water if they can.
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Know When Its Time To Ask For Help
Even though the symptoms of anxiety can feel overwhelming and permanent, anxiety is highly treatable. If someone you love is experiencing pervasive anxiety, or you have concerns that anxiety is interfering with daily life, encourage them to seek help from their primary care physician or mental health professional.
Of all the ways to help someone with anxiety, this may be the most important one.
As a friend or loved one, your role is to offer support, not treatment. Offer to assist with locating a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist that treats anxiety. Talk to them about online and in-person therapy options.
Individuals living with anxiety can often feel better by undergoing a combination of therapies, including psychotherapy, medication, and self-management.
Know What Kind Of Help To Offer To The Person With Anxiety
The best way to help a person with anxiety is to first listen to the side of their story. Based on the conversation you have with the person, you can know how to help that person. Take a step in advance if you think the person wont be willing to engage in a conversation with you. Some persons with anxiety are hesitant to open up about their anxiety problems.
Engage the person with anxiety in a gentle conversation. Ask what help you can accord them in your discussion. Apart from that, let the person know that you are always willing and available to help them.
There are several ways you can use to approach an individual with anxiety. For instance, you can call the person if a person-to-person meeting isnt feasible. You can also text or email them if they need help from you.
This idea works well, especially for persons with social anxiety disorder. People with phobias and social anxiety disorder usually avoid person-to-person conversations or interactions. Nonetheless, these people still need help.
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Best Tips To Help Someone Whos Having An Anxiety Attack Over Text
Is someone you know having an anxiety attack? Do you want to help but feel unsure of what to do or say, especially since it’s over text? Anxiety attacks can be very frightening and overwhelming, but with these 12 tips, you can help someone who’s going through one.
One of the challenges people face when it comes to helping someone who’s having an anxiety attack over text is not knowing what to do.
Your first instinct is to want to help, but it can be difficult to know how to comfort someone who is in a lot of pain and can’t see them in person. After all, it’s not like you can hug them through the screen.
If you find yourself in a situation where you want to help but don’t know how, here are some tips on what you can do to help someone who’s having an anxiety attack over text.
- Difficulty Concentrating and Sleeping
An anxiety attack can be extremely distressing and may feel like a heart attack or other medical emergency.
If you are unsure whether someone is having an anxiety attack or a more serious problem, it is always best to err on the side of caution and help them seek medical attention.
Helping Someone During An Anxiety Attack
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The Do’s And Don’ts Of Anxiety
With that in mind, it’s time to go over some tips on how to help a friend with anxiety. Note that every person is different and has different needs. There are some people who want to talk about their anxieties, and there are others who may have never mentioned it. So even with these do’s and don’ts, it’s hard to know exactly what you should do. However, this can be a helpful guide.
Dealing with anxiety is an uphill battle, and it does take a toll on others around them. Anxiety can strain relationships, and may even cause significant stress on a loved one. Some people find that they actually start developing anxieties of their own.
But a supportive friend is an extremely effective way to treat your own anxiety. Learn from the above tips to better understand how to help your friend, family member, or a partner and you’ll give them the best opportunity to overcome their anxiety and grow closer to you as a result.
Those that love someone with anxiety may feel helpless that they cannot help their partner or friend. Anxiety is treatable, but its also a very individual experience. Learning more about anxiety is the best thing you can do for them, as well as encouraging them if they decide theyre ready to treat it.
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